Mon09252017

Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 1pm

Opinion

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Social Justice

A Look on Colin Kaepernick’s Recent Stand (Pun Intended)


The First Amendment in the Constitution has always been viewed as one of our most important rights as an American citizen. Recently, our right to freedom of speech and expression of thought has created great controversy in the case of San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.

The football player has been refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Liam Frank, a senior music industry student, explains, “I know that Colin Kaepernick is a talented quarterback with a good amount of fame surrounding him, and I think that he has brought attention to a controversial, but important, issue in America. He’s donated to causes supporting minorities mentioned in his protests, and used his fame as a venue for social justice advocacy.”

The problems of police brutality and minority oppression in this country are very real and cannot be ignored, however, does Kaepernick have the right to express his political views during the playing of the national anthem? Sydney Underhill, a senior on the Monmouth University softball team and a graduate student in public policy program said, “I believe that the flag protects his right to do just what he and the other athletes who have followed suit have chosen to do.”

Underhill continued, “Even if the flag represents military and police, how can we demand someone honor those who appear to be waging war against the black community? How do we demand people respect a country that does not respect their experience but rather denies it and attempts to dictate it? As a social justice minded athlete I feel inspired by these actions. Colin and all the other athletes have my utmost praise and support.”

Frank adds, “There are many people that pass judgment on him and his actions because they feel as if he’s disrespecting America and ‘race baiting,’ but no matter what one has to say about his protests, you cannot deny his constitutional right to do so. Not being an advocate for freedom of expression is the most un-American outcome of this entire situation.”

Although Kaepernick was only exercising his First Amendment right, should professional sports be a place for political expression? Professor Ryan Tetro of the political science and sociology department explains, “He absolutely has the right to do and say what he believes; it is part of his First Amendment right as an American citizen.”

Tetro continued, “The National Football League has the legal right to take whatever actions against him because they are a private employer with a business and image to maintain. The First Amendment protects United States citizens’ right to free speech against the government, not a private employer.”

In regards to “sticking to your job and staying out of politics,” Frank believes, “These actors, musicians, and athletes make a living on expressing themselves, so telling them not to do so is telling them to not do their job. If you take away expression, there is no more art, no more music, and sports becomes completely soulless and boring.”

On the other hand, Tetro believes, “Politics should not mix with entertainment so much. As a sports fan I like to go to games to escape the political world for a little while.”

Issues have been brought stating that the national anthem being played at sporting events is bringing politics into athletics. Tetro explained, “Sports teams fandoms have similar characteristics as patriotism. Ironically, the national anthem at a sporting event almost becomes nonpoliticized in that nature because it has always been known to bring fans together in pride for their country the same way they show pride for their sports team.”

Frank stated, “When you play a national anthem at a sporting event, it calls all fans, regardless of background, to unify and enjoy the match while showing national pride, however, if there are blaring issues concerning oppression or questionable rule in the nation of the anthem being played, don’t always expect the athletes, who are also human beings, to not make a statement.”

We all have the right to feel, speak, and express our beliefs. There is no right or wrong side in the case of Colin Kaepernick.

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